Montreal

Quebec caregivers need more support, mom of disabled girl says

Marilyne Picard quit her job to take care of her young daughter, Dylane, who has a chromosomal illness so rare it doesn't have a name. She says Quebecers at home with sick loved ones are often denied a caregivers' allowance.

Marilyne Picard struggles with the cost of caring for daughter Dylane, who has a rare disability

Help for primary caregivers urgent, says mother of severely disabled daughter

7 years ago
Duration 2:32
Marilyne Picard says her daughter's disability costs $1,400 a month -- money this stay-at-home mom and caregiver can't afford.

Nearly a quarter of Quebecers will, at some point in their lives, become the primary caregiver for a loved one — a sick child, a parent with Alzheimer's, a spouse with Lou Gehrig's disease.

Marilyne Picard is one of those people.

She quit her job after daughter Dylane was born with a chromosomal illness so rare it doesn’t even have a name.

The disability itself is the least of her worries, though. Her three-year-old daughter suffers from frequent seizures and needs constant attention.

"She needs care every minute," Picard said.

Dylane has a rare illness that causes frequent seizures. Her mom Marilyne says she has no choice but to stay home with her daughter if she wants to keep her alive. (CBC)

Yet she receives only minimal support from the provincial and federal governments and doesn’t get a caregivers’ allowance.

She said Lucie Charlebois, her local MNA and Quebec’s minister responsible for rehabilitation, youth protection and public health, told her there was no way she could get one, either – due to budget cuts.

On top of that, Picard said she has to wait three years to get any kind of caregiver support from her local CLSC. Meanwhile, Dylane’s frequent hospitalizations, feeding tubes and other medical costs are adding up.

"I don’t like to say it like this, but my girl costs $1,400 a month," she said.

Too few options for caregivers

So the St-Lazare, Que. mom started a campaign to get financial support for parents who care for their disabled children full-time.

Other parents joined her cause, and together they are trying to pressure the provincial government to offer more in terms of support for primary caregivers.

Mario Tardif, the coordinator of Quebec’s primary caregivers' association, said people like Picard have too few choices.

He said many long-term primary caregivers without any steady income often end up collecting welfare because of the lack of other forms of support.

Tardif said he will continue to lobby the provincial government to come to the aid of people serving as caregivers to ill and disabled relatives.

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